Advancing Equity in Elementary STEAM Learning
PS Science will bring hands-on, high-quality STEAM education to 6,000+ under-resourced students at 18 Title 1 elementary schools throughout L.A. County. Without PS Science, the students we serve would have little to no STEAM learning due to the chronic deficit of meaningful elementary school science education in public schools. Our weekly in-school science education and after-school science & code clubs, summer camps, and enrichment classes gives youth a strong STEAM foundation that creates cradle to career pathways to future STEAM professions.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
K-12 STEAM Education
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
County of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
The great minds of tomorrow are in elementary school classrooms, but science is not. Countless elementary school children throughout L.A. County do not receive formal science instruction due to lack of funding in under-resourced communities. In fact, students in low-income communities are less than half as likely to have science programs in place in their schools. Social-distancing and remote learning challenges during the pandemic only further exacerbated learning loss and widened the opportunity gap for under-resourced youth from low-income communities. A 2021 report from the L.A. Education Recovery Fund found that wealthier children were able to better manage pandemic challenges by accessing supplemental programs (one-on-one tutoring, after-school programming, learning pods, and virtual therapy). Children growing up in poverty had limited or no access to additional academic enrichment support, further exacerbating pre-existing systemic inequities for low-wealth children of color.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
PS Science's unique model builds a bedrock of science knowledge among under-resourced students through hands-on, in-person instruction, while making tangible progress toward our broader mission of equal access to high-quality science education for all students across L.A. County. PS Science delivers high-quality science curriculum to TK-5th grade students (the vast majority of whom are Black or Latinx and 75% come from low-income families) at Title 1 elementary schools throughout L.A. County during the school year. Weekly lessons include 60-90 minutes of engaging science experiments and hands-on activities. Our instructors also provide customized teacher training and coaching, including instructional video lessons and email support. This service is in response to feedback from teachers, the majority of whom said they felt they were underprepared to teach science prior to being introduced to PS Science. Beyond our in-school programming, youth are engaged outside of normal school hours via weekly after-school Science Clubs, STEM clubs and Remote Afterschool STEM Enrichment classes with L.A. Unified School District; family science nights where parents and children work together to run science experiments from home or at school utilizing materials that accompany classroom lessons; spring break and our two-week-long S-TEAM Rangers summer camps; and summer enrichment opportunities through our partnerships with several YMCA locations, Great Public Schools Now and L.A. city parks.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Our vision is to implement our program model of simultaneously providing students with science instruction while classroom teachers participate in sustained professional development so that ultimately all students at under-resourced schools across L.A. County will have equal access to early science education. Our high-quality, stimulating programs ignite the curiosity of students from low-wealth backgrounds in the world around them, give them a strong STEAM foundation for future academic and career success, and inspire the next generation of innovators starting in elementary school. PS Science's instructors infuse methods to promote social-emotional learning and structure activities focusing on building relationships, communicating feelings, and working collaboratively. Our after-school clubs, spring break and summer camps reinforce in-school foundational science lessons and provide extended science education opportunities, especially during the summer when learning losses are great.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
We evaluate all grade-level curricula by gathering quantitative and qualitative data, including feedback from teachers and administrators. Comments/suggestions from students and teachers also are compiled via survey and used to assess science content. Organizational outputs are tracked via the number of unduplicated students who participate in our classroom program and extracurricular programming. Learning outcomes are evaluated utilizing a combination of student self-report, student direct assessments, teacher self-report, and teachers' assessment of student behavior. Based on previous school year evaluation results: -80% of students are more capable of using Next Generation Science Standards Science and Engineering Practices, as rated by their teachers. -95% of students and teachers report being highly satisfied with PS Science. -75% of students report an increased interest in STEM careers. -90% of teachers report increased confidence in conducting hands-on science instruction.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 7,500
Indirect Impact: 30,000